Why 'Always be closing' is short sighted.
There are a plethora of 'sales for dummies' books, recordings and podcasts out there, many of them are 'best sellers' or 'award winners' however most are focused on how to become the pushy car salesman we all long to get away from. We even had a client who was struggling with acquiring new business recommend one of these titles.
The 'Always be closing' method is fundamentally floored, what happens when your client or prospect is not ready to be closed? Do you just burn that relationship and walk away? No of course you don't, you educate and help in any way you can, nurture them until they are ready.
More and more B2B businesses are adopting a SaaS model meaning that the value of a client is split across a number of months/years and not just a one time transaction. This means the days of pushy salesmen (or women) doing everything within their power to force customers to sign on the dotted line are coming to an end and the consultative, client relationship focused mindset is becoming a more viable option.
To build a relationship you need a stable foundation
Every relationship needs a strong foundation, from a sales point of view this is finding the right prospect, with the right need where your solution can help.
If you convince a customer that your business can fix an issue that it does not, or fix an issue they don't have then don't be surprised if you loose the sale or get complaints. The relationship never had a strong foundation and its your job as the sales team to build them.
The relationship building mindset.
Maybe it's time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to seriously analyse our sales thinking so we can identify why we're not making more sales. If you build relationships you build pipeline & pipeline is paramount to a lasting sales cycle.
With changing the mindset you change the process from a short term (yes/no) cycle to a long term cycle that supports sustained growth.
Traditional Sales Mindset: Always deliver a strong sales pitch.
Relationship Building Mindset: Stop the sales pitch, start a conversation.
When you call someone, avoid making a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Start with an opening conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. If you don't know what this is, ask your current customers why they purchased your solution. One example of an opening phrase might be, "I'm just calling to see if you'd be open to some different ideas related to lowering the risk of any computer downtime you may be having in your company?" Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase.
Traditional Sales Mindset: Your central objective is always to close the sale.
Relationship Building Mindset: Your goal is to discover whether you and your potential client are a good fit.
Let go of trying to "close the sale" or "get the appointment" and you will discover that you don't have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward. If you simply focus your conversation on problems that you can help potential clients solve, and if you don't jump the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you will find that potential clients will actually bring you into their buying process.
Traditional Sales Mindset: When you lose a sale, it's usually at the end of the sales process.
Relationship Building Mindset: When you lose a sale, it's usually right at the beginning of the sales process.
If you believe that you lose sales because you make a mistake at the end of the process, take a look back at how you began the relationship. Did you start with a presentation? Did you use traditional sales language like, "We have a solution that I believe you really need" or "Others in your industry have bought our solution, so you should consider it as well"?
When you use traditional sales language, potential clients can't help but label you with the negative stereotype of "salesperson." This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you from a position of trust.
And if trust isn't established at the outset, honest communication about the problems they're trying to solve, and how you might be able to help them, becomes impossible too.
Traditional Sales Mindset: Keep chasing every potential client until you get a yes or a no.
Relationship Building Mindset: Don't chase, reschedule.
"Chasing" potential clients has always been considered normal and necessary, but it's rooted in the macho selling image that, "If you don't keep chasing, it means you're giving up and that means you're a failure."
Instead of chasing potential clients, tell them that you would like to avoid anything that resembles the old cat-and-mouse chasing game by scheduling a time for your next chat.
Traditional Sales Mindset: When a prospect offers objections, challenge and/or counter them.
Relationship Building Mindset: When a potential client offers objections, uncover the truth behind them.
Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on "overcoming objections." These tactics only put more sales pressure on potential clients and also fail to explore or understand the truth behind what the potential client is saying. When you hear, "We don't have the budget," "Send me information," or "Call me in a few months," do you think you're hearing the truth, or do you suspect that these are polite evasions designed to end the conversation?
Rather than trying to counter objections, you can uncover the truth by replying, "That's not a problem" -- no matter what clients are "objecting" to -- and then using gentle, dignified language that invites them to reveal the truth about their situation.
Traditional Sales Mindset: If a potential client challenges the value of your product or service, you must defend yourself and explain the value.
Relationship Building Mindset: Never defend yourself or what you have to offer.
When a potential client says, "Why should I choose you over your competition?" your first, instinctive reaction is probably to start defending your product or service because you want to convince them to buy. But what do you think goes through your potential client's mind at that point?
Something like, "This 'salesperson' is trying to sell me on why what they have to offer is better, but I hate feeling as if I'm being sold." Rather than defending yourself, try suggesting that you aren't going to try to convince them of anything because that would only create sales pressure. Instead, ask them about the key problems that they are trying to solve, and then explore how your product or service might solve those problems without ever trying to persuade. Let potential clients feel that they can choose you without feeling "sold."